The Truth About Limited Atonement

8. December 2013 19:14 by Edward L. Smith in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

The Truth About Limited Atonement


Exodus 12:7; 12-14

Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.



Before we begin this conversation on the atonement lets define exactly what it means. According to the Holman Bible dictionary the meaning of Atonement is the reconciliation that was associated with sacrificial offerings to remove the effects of sin and in the New Testament, refers specifically to the reconciliation between God and humanity effected by the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. In the Old Testament Primarily in the Old Testament, atonement refers to the process God established whereby humans could make an offering to God to restore fellowship with God.


As I address the atonement this will be the logical direction of thought I will be using. Whoever you are you not only have a view of the atonement but you believe in some form of a limited atonement. The only thing that complicates the issue is the phrase “limited”, to whom is the atonement is limited to? This is why many have sought out to use different language instead of limited. Some people prefer to use terms like “particular redemption,” “definite redemption,” or “intentional atonement.”  John MacArthur uses the term “Actual Atonement” when teaching on this subject. The bottom line fact is this; Jesus death on the cross actually satisfies the just penalty for sin before a holy God.


The problem arises that some believe that the atonement is for all people and not limited to a specific group of people. The problem comes from a misunderstanding of selective passages ripped out of context from their original meaning. Most people read in their own personal systematic belief system in selective passages that contain phrases like all will be saved or the passages that state Jesus died for the world, etc. So let’s carefully yet briefly look from a Biblical standpoint at this subject of exactly to whom was the atonement actually offered for.


I believe the subject is quite clear Ephesians 5:25 Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for Her, emphasis *Her*. In Jesus High Priestly prayer He Himself prays a minimum of 40 times not for the world but specifically for those who would believe in Him, namely the elect. In John 17 Jesus uses words like they, them, their, and those to identify that He wasn’t praying for the entire world because He was only sent to those the Father specifically gave Him. Jesus pronounced His official mission statement by saying in Luke 19:10:


For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5: 31-32)


But what about all of those *all* passages or those that use the phrase “world”, just what about those?  This misunderstanding of certain passages has most people in the Church thinking that Jesus died for everyone potentially and no one actually until they find it within themselves to believe. To say that Jesus just died for everybody potentially, is sort of like evangelizing by telling dead men to rise up and follow Jesus but dead men can’t walk. It is border line heretical to teach that Jesus died for everybody potentially and no one actually. The actualizing of the atonement does NOT depend upon the sinner but the Holy Spirit of God actualizes the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the behalf of God’s chosen. The Bible clearly teaches that the atonement is limited in its extent to those whom God chooses and whom God saves.


The words “world” and “all” needs to be qualified in every passage you come to. I arrive at this conclusion based upon Jesus prayer in John 17. For time sake I will not quote the entire prayer but make emphasis on verses 13 – 19.


13 But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.


If Jesus limited His mission of whom He was sent and just hours before He would go to the Cross He limited His prayer for whom He would die, it should be made clear that His atonement also was “limited”, “particular”, “definite”, and “intentional”. Shall I dare say “actual”, actual for those to whom the Father sent Him to which He would redeem.


This brief posting will not clear up the entire discussion but what I pray it will do is give purposeful discussion upon this subject.


I conclude with a thought from the Prince of Preachers himself C. H. Spurgeon:

"That Christ should offer an atonement and satisfaction for the sins of all men, and that afterwards, some of those very men should be punished for the same sins which Christ had already atoned for, seems to me, to be the most marvelous monstrosity that ever could have been imputed to Saturn, to Janus, aye, to the god of the Thugs, or the most diabolical heathen demons!


"God forbid that we should ever think thus of Jehovah, the Just and Wise."


Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.




A Passionate Pursuit for God’s Glory

3. December 2013 00:14 by Edward L. Smith in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

Ezekiel 10:19

When the cherubim departed, they lifted their wings and rose up from the earth in my sight with the wheels beside them; and they stood still at the entrance of the east gate of the Lord’s house, and the glory of the God of Israel hovered over them.


Jonathan Edwards is much like Ezekiel in that he had a vision and glimpse of the glory of God. Jonathan Edwards is known as the greatest preacher, philosopher, and theologian in the history of America. Edwards was passionate in his pursuit to live a life that glorified God. That passion was fueled by what we now know as his 70 Resolutions.


Jonathan Edwards read through these resolutions once a week throughout his life time from the age of 19 and every year at the end of the year I also read through these resolutions. I read them because they refuel my passion for God, they force me to rethink and Test myself to see if I are in the faith; examine yourselves! 2 Corinthians 13:5.  Come and journey with me as I read through and mediate on these resolutions.


You don’t get further than Edwards’s preamble that you are forced to stop and think.

Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat Him, by His grace, to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will, for Christ’s sake.


Just for a moment think of this statement, “I am unable to do anything without God’s help”. This needs to be a constant reminder in every believers life because For in Him we live and move and exist (Acts 17:28) all because of God. Here is where I look at myself and my own life and examine am I totally depending upon God and not upon myself.


Today I want to mediate on just the first and second of seventy resolutions.

1.       Resolved, That I will do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of God, and my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my duration; without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved, to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved, so to do, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever.


2.      Resolved, To be continually endeavouring to find out some new contrivance and invention to promote the forementioned things.


This is where I believe my life verse was birthed, 1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do ALL to the glory of God. Edwards said he would do whatever he thought, “to be most to the glory of God”. Whether at my job or with my wife, or talking with my children I want to do it in a fashion that first and foremost will glorify God and God alone. When I deal with love ones or I deal with my neighbor I deal with them in a manner that most glorifies God. This thought alone satisfies my soul.


Like Edwards I need to be focused on doing whatever “I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general…to do, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever.”


I can’t lose this passion but I realized I’ve failed at this one. It’s time to plant my feet in the ground and make some changes. The Apostle Paul writes, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”, this I believe was the thrust behind Edwards thoughts.


I am “Resolved, To be continually endeavouring to find out some new contrivance and invention to promote the forementioned things”. In other words I need to do whatever it takes no matter how creative I need be in order to structure my life that it glorifies my God. Join me in a continuing pursuit of God’s glory.


Every time I read these resolutions I see a much needed work of grace that is needed to be done in my life but I return to the preamble, “I do humbly entreat Him, by His grace, to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will, for Christ’s sake”. I concluded this morning praying that this is the word of the Lord to Edward saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts. By God’s grace and by His power I am resolved in a passionate pursuit for God’s glory.


Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do ALL to the glory of God

1 Corinthians 10:31


About Edward L. Smith

My ministry philosophy would consist of these essentials—a High View of God, the absolute authority of Scripture, Expository Preaching, Sound Doctrine, Personal Holiness, and a Biblical view of spiritual authority. All ministries must be God-Honoring, Christ-Centered, & Gospel Saturated. (1 Corinthians 10:31)


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